Allergies and intolerances. There has been a lot of media attention around these issues that are growing amongst society. We live in a world where we are forever challenging our bodies with toxins and products that are so alien to it that the body simply begins to react and goes into fight, attack mode.
Allergies are incredibly serious and deadly. Intolerances too are on the rise and should be taken just as seriously. The reactions may not cause death but they can cause extremely scary reactions.
Allergies are the most common chronic illness in Europe and cases are growing year on year. Restaurants, cafés and bars have had to adapt their ways of cooking, preparing and selling their products because of the problem.
Some have found it easier than others. Fast foods and pre-prepared busy kitchens have struggled to adapt. Having to learn to keep 'fresh' stock in, in case a one of dish needs to be made and that separate cooking and preparing stations are a must.
Some restaurants are extremely good and well prepared. It was especially pleasing to see Pizza Hut around two years ago now being very transparent and displaying all the allergens within each dish they serve but also being more open to offering more within their menu to accommodate more customers. For a 'fast food' chain this was great because the smaller restaurants and cafes that had a smaller output had no excuse but to be more flexible.
It is hard to say who is rising to the challenge the best. The countries and cities you would think would accommodate well often don't and the places you think you may struggle are often the most surprising.
London it seems just have so much output and demand that requests and requirements get lost in translate and you are normally told that what is on the menu is on the menu and that is that. There isn't any flexibility.
Then you go to other cities with your London experience in mind, worried you will starve and be accommodated for brilliantly.
Manchester - the Alchemist, deserves a special mention. On Sunday, I went for a meal there with my Mum and Dad and nothing was a problem. They brought me the book of all the allergens and the ingredients they use in everything they cook, from products to sauces. I was able to pick and mix off the menu, bits and pieces of dishes I could eat to make up what I needed and wanted. The same for my Mum who doesn't suffer with allergies and intolerances but when she wanted salad not rice and more cheddar than brie, the sauce without chillies. It wasn't an issue. All the food was made fresh and we left 'well' and happy customers. We weren't treated like we were being troublemakers or fussy, the waiter was great and put us at great ease which really made the whole experience so less stressful and far more enjoyable.
It is so easy but so effective, because if we are in the area we will always go back because the food is top notch, the service is fab and NOTHING (requirement wise) was an issue.
I think it is also important to raise that often especially with online booking, restaurants have started asking if there is any requirements. I think it is important to ensure you do add all your requirements and requests in. It is only fair to give the restaurant time to prepare for your needs but also it shows proof that you tried to pre-warn them and they knew before you walked through the door you had requests. Same over the phone, be open and honest and give the restaurant a heads up.
With Halloween tomorrow and Christmas fast approaching it is so important to me that the children DO NOT miss out on the fun. For a few years now I have raved on about displaying TEAL pumpkins and signs to show that you have allergy free treats for the children.
Many people's response is still that: 'If they can't eat the sweets they are providing they will just have to have an apple.' They need to put themselves in the children's shoes and think how they would feel knocking on people's doors and returning home with 20 apples, whilst they watch their friends munch on Mars bars and rip open Harbio packets. I know, I know, if it was me I would love 20 apples but it is heart-breaking for children and they should feel included in celebrations, experiences and adventures.
It isn't too much effort just to go down any FreeFrom aisle in any supermarket and you can get a wide range of vegan marshmallows, vegan sweets, non diary chocolates, muffins, biscuits, NAK'D bars are great, there is a lot of choice.
If you are BRILLIANT and support the #TEALPUMPKINPROJECT then proudly display it on your doors and windows - through posters , so children and parents know to stop at your door.
I have found in the past most of my NAK'D bars go faster and first over lollipops and Harbios, but I guess for the children it is something different for them too. A lot of the children even recognise and know FreeFrom companies, projects and foods which is great.
Remember put yourselves in the children's shoes and help them have happy memories of trick or treating and Halloween rather than upsetting memories or worse not going out with their friends trick or treating or to parties because they feel they can't eat anything and enjoy the experience.
With Christmas coming up too there are lots of FreeFrom ranges not just in the Supermarkets but online through Holland and Barrett that sell advent calendars, selection boxes, non-dairy chocolate Santa's and lots more ! To help everyone feel a part of the celebration, be able to eat as their parents, friends and family do. It makes SO much difference to their overall experiences and memories.
Another thing I will briefly touch on but will go into more depth in the coming days about is sugar. This is the time of year especially that is very treat and sweet originated means there is a lot of sugar wherever we turn. Lyme bacteria, thrive in cooler temperatures and as the seasons change and temperatures drop the more sugar we feed our bodies the more we are feeding the bacteria and allowing them to thrive.
Again, health food shops and now a lot of supermarkets do 'stevia' based treats and chocolates. So they use stevia which is a plant sugar over refined sugars. Plant sugar is an amino acid so is seen and used as a protein by the body to repair cells and tissues and can not be used in glucose sense for energy and food for the bacteria to thrive on. We don't need any extra symptoms and flare-up's going on. More about the change in season and surviving the winter to come.
Finally please join and support the #TEALPUMPKINPROJECT, but smiles on those children's faces and feed their souls as well as their tummies. They will be forever grateful and have a Spooktastic Halloween.